The Orioles reached 70 wins on Sunday. They are young, fun and arguably the best story in baseball. And yet the headlines on Monday weren’t about any of that. They were, as first reported by Awful Announcing, about broadcaster Kevin Brown’s two-week absence from the MASN booth for comments on July 23 that the Orioles had won more games in 2023 at Tropicana Field than the previous two years combined.
Orioles remove broadcaster over comment on Rays-O’s series
A fact that was presented in the team’s game notes as follows: The Orioles have won three of the first five games at The Trop this season after winning three of the 21 games played in St. Petersburg from 2020-22.
A fact that was accompanied by a graphic titled “Trop-ical Disaster,” made by MASN, the team-owned network. Brown doesn’t write the game notes. He doesn’t make the graphics. But he bore the brunt of a seemingly benign statement of fact because it rubbed someone the wrong way. That someone is John Angelos, sources briefed on the matter say, the only person with enough power that no one dare question the validity of anything he says and does, no matter how foolish it is.
No matter that the Orioles being terrible in past years wasn’t a secret — they lost more than 100 games in all three full seasons from 2018-2021. Or that Angelos himself said in spring training that the team wanted to emulate the Tampa Bay Rays and be competitive yearly on a small budget. No, the man who was once in a lawsuit with his own brother, Louis (which was settled earlier this year) and promised the media this spring he’d open the team’s books (he never did), apparently decided this comment was unacceptable. This made him, the owner of a team with the game’s 29th-best payroll, look cheap.
Then Angelos dispatched his people to deliver the message, being careful to never use the word “suspension” and to make sure to combat the tsunami of bad press by having a high-ranking team official tell multiple outlets, “We don’t comment on employment decisions, however, Kevin Brown will be back with us in the near future.”
The Orioles declined to comment to The Athletic and a spokesperson for John Angelos said “there was no suspension,” but declined to answer any follow-up questions on the record.
Who cares what they called it? We all know what it is.
It reeks of the same petty behavior that saw MASN part with a host of loyal broadcasters, including Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter. Or dismissing public address announcer Ryan Wagner hours before the team’s home opener in 2021. Angelos publicly chastised sportswriter Dan Connolly, a friend and former Athletic colleague, for asking baseball-related questions during a presser on Martin Luther King Day.
The gall of him, of anyone related to the decision to take Brown off the air, to take away from what the Orioles are doing on the field. Especially now, on National Sea Serpent Day.
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) January 16, 2023
Brown, whose agent declined comment for this story, has become a popular fixture on the Orioles broadcasts. He’s smart, savvy and clearly loves his job. He’s been through the team’s lean years and, like anyone else, should tell the excitement of this season through the lens of how far the team has come.
How is losing to Tampa Bay, an organization you want to emulate, in previous years embarrassing? But this is the same organization that has rules against mentioning certain former players on-air, that ran Jon Miller out of town because he wasn’t enough of a homer decades ago when Peter Angelos ran the team. John isn’t Peter. And he’s done some good things, chief among them hiring general manager Mike Elias and letting the baseball operations people do what they do best without meddling, which was often a problem for the elder Angelos.
Brown is expected to return to the broadcast booth on Aug. 11, sources with knowledge say. And if he does, it will be a welcome sight. But one has to wonder what kind of message this sends to anyone in the organization, who can seemingly be taken out of their jobs without so much as a blink, and how Brown can return and not worry about everything he says and does being taken out of context.
For all the good that the Orioles have done on the field, Monday was a reminder of the challenges they’ve had off of it.
(Photo: Karl Merton Ferron / The Baltimore Sun / Tribune News Service via Getty Images)